Trotters Poised To Race Into History In Hambletonian And ‘Oaks’

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

August 5th, 2015

The traditional, original format of the Hambletonian, presenting elimination heats and a final, allows the classic event to dominate a stupendous program of racing on Aug. 8. The elims decide the final’s field and the winner of the final is the champion.

The filly version, the Hambletonian Oaks, will be missing a pair of gals. Mission Brief will race against the boys, which is a wonderful addition to this year’s Hambletonian. Sadly, the “Oaks” will be missing one of its elim winners, Spirit To Win, who was tragically killed in a stall accident on Aug. 3.

If you have followed the exclusive Hambletonian Trail blog you already profited from many of the glamour-boy-and-girl trotting divisions since May. Now it is time to evaluate those that made the trip on the “Trail” to trot into history.

Since we cannot handicap the Hambletonian Final, we will comment on each horse in each of the two elim heats, estimate some strong outside contenders and then we will address our best-case scenario for a wager in the championship final.

Hambletonian No. 90 – Elimination 1, $100,000

Trond Smedshammer’s colt has raced only five times at three, after winning all three of his frosh races. He is on target for a great mile against foes he met in his quintet of 2015 miles and his draw only supports it.

2 – The Bank
Trainer Jimmy Takter said this member of his sophomore herd is very sharp right now and he will continue to drive the colt. Still, he lacks what it takes to defeat his stable mates, proving he is not the top Takter trotter in this division.

3 – Workout Wonder
Ake Svanstedt’s well-bred colt has not battled the best of the division much in six starts this season and may not be able to keep up with some in this elim that may face more troubling trips.

4 – Habitat
This colt is so good that he becomes the best reason he loses. Occasional jumps and speed-trapped overland routes have come too often, else he may have been the dead-on choice to take the classic’s crown.

5 – Total Darkness
Kudos to owner Joe Smith and trainer Jonas Czernyson for dropping this Muscles Yankee colt into the box because he has his work cut out for him as he attempts to step up into a classier group.

6. Fashion Creditor
Certainly, Tom Fanning’s student has matured since a mild-mannered frosh season and is looking in his best shape at three as he takes on a more sophisticated bunch than his usual New York-bred rivals.

7 – Jacksons Minion
Owner/trainer/driver Jacksons Minion came to the classic fray after gaining confidence in an Arden Stake at the Meadows, his third-straight win in Pennsylvania. He won’t be able to command this field with his speed, though, and that could take the living breath out of him.

8 – Centurion ATM
A fireball at two, he is yet to win a race at three but his “Dancer” performance (he broke and make up almost a dozen lengths to finish second) turned a lot of heads (he was well bet at 2-1 anyway). This is Ake Svanstedt’s other entry and we assume his pride and joy. We expect the pair to be aggressive in every way in order to make the final; but we don’t expect them to win here.

9 – Canepa Hanover
Another Takter trotter that has been actively collecting checks along the Trail got post 9 and Jimmy Takter was not happy. He will have to take back and get a path to a spot in the final because getting to the top could see him come up short.

10 – Pinkman
Takter was also dismayed about the probable favorite and division’s top trotter getting the farthest post from the rail. If this guy is as good as he has shown, winning six of seven this season, the post may not matter at all. He could, in fact, revel in two fiery miles in a single day and enter history with the 10 hole as an asterisk.

ELIM 1 allows us to take advantage of the chance DONATOMITE will improve, assisted by the advantages of his post and speed. He can win off of a pocket trip, which he can get early, or if he takes command early and puts them to a good chase. He is the contender that will most likely offer odds better than his chances. PINKMAN still deserves much respect and should play a role in the exotics. HABITAT, on his best day, can whip these but will this be one of his best days?

Hambletonian No. 90 – Elimination 2, $100,000

1 – Billy Flynn
Staffan Lind’s colt had a great qualifier to ready for this and he needed it since he has been uneven and rarely supported since turning three. In the 1 hole he gets a chance to either sit cold with a trip or surprise us all and master the mile on the top.

2 – Mission Brief
This is the daughter of Hambo-champ Muscle Hill and trainer Ron Burke is counting on her keeping stride and floating her speed against the boys. She was great in the filly “Zweig” and she has beaten boys before, so she gets a big shot here.

3 – Cruzado Dela Noche
He was going along fine early on and then he began to gallop—a lot. We expected, as we are sure trainer Nancy Johansson expected, that he would mature quickly at three and be a barn-storm in the division. So far, he has not lived up to expectations.

4 – Aldebaran Eagle
He has been cashing checks from seven races this season but has not show he can tackle the sharper colts in the division or for that matter, the likes of Burke’s filly.

5 – Wings Of Royalty
He’s not been able to compete in top company well, no less out of New York, where he has made money on three- and two-turn ovals against state-breds. Circumstances can get him into the final but which kind and from where they originate are unpredictable.

6 – French Laundry
Another Takter teamster and a dangerous one with a big brush to take down speedsters and he has been able to wrestle well with his own stable mates. In a few scenarios, he wins, but he may not be as good as the filly on his best day.

7 – Uncle Lasse
Takter’s herd is complete. This guy rolls well but he, too, may not have the true grit to take the filly when she’s flat. As with the colt leaving from his left, a good trip can get him into the final but do we want to support that possibility at the odds they will give us? We doubt it.

8 – Southwind Mozart
The remaining entry from Svanstedt would have to greatly improve or get lucky to win over these and may even need a good dose of good fortune to make the final.

9 – Muscle Diamond
The lightest raced of any in these elims, Brett Bittle’s colt (also by Muscle Hill) has a long journey to get to the winner’s circle. Even though he was a strong presence in the only two races he addressed this season (a win and a place), he’s uneven and unproven among the experienced sophs he faces.

ELIM 2 presents a lot of questions that cannot be answered concerning jumps and trips. It’s a perfect field for the filly, so if MISSION BRIEF can float evenly she should win it. However, we want to take advantage of a stronger paying result, the kind that should present itself if BILLY FLYNN gets in a stalking spot inside, saves ground and trots down one or two in front of him in the stretch. Even a whisker win over the filly is a win and will produce a great price.

If the colts and the filly we endorse get into the second-heat final, it means there is still a chance any of them could take home the silver-bowl trophy. The decision we make on the best bet in the second Hambo mile will be tweeted @FrankCotolo and @twinspires, when we know which horses made it, their posts and the odds. Meanwhile, try to bury some numbers in the elims.


If you believe in stranger things than the laws of probability, look at this year’s Oaks field with wonder. Mission Brief holds a strong contender’s spot among the boys and one of the Oaks’ elim stars joined the ill fated. Spirit To Win fell while in a jog cart and ruptured a lung artery that killed her. Oaks 44, then, finds a 10-glamour-girl-fillies field tightly wound.

1 – Lock Down Lindy
At 7-1 she took her elim with eye-popping grace and will get and deserve favorite status, certainly assisted by the absence of the aforementioned and post 1 and driver Tim Tetrick, et al.  

2 – Wild Honey
Takter’s filly gets the morning-line nod but may not deserve it. She has let four defeat her in as many starts with no excuses and may be tailing off even worse than displayed in her lines.

3 – Bright Baby Blues
Bob Stewart’s filly is from a grand trotting family but she has been more blue than bright against the likes of the division’s best.

4 – Lady Winona
Two races ago, in the “Miller,” she was 100-1 and she raced like it. That was after being 2-1 (and finishing second) in a New York Sires Stakes at Buffalo. She clearly lacks a certain class to win in this company.

5 – Rules Of The Road
She is a stakes-battling Muscle Hill soph that just made the final but needs some assistance from the trip fates, so to speak. She won’t be able to take this field wire to wire.

6 – Classical Annie
Another gal who, in order to win, will need some others trotting too hard for their own talent.

7. – Livininthefastlane
Always in the mix this season. Trainer Julie Miller will have her primed for the big-dollar ball.

8 – Sarcy
Takter’s second-string filly is flying under the radar and waiting for the perfect mile to land in the winner’s circle. This race will offer a good price on her and her presence in exotics will boost the price, even with the favorite.

9 – Smokinmombo
She is back on the outside and that is what almost kept her from this final. She has a lot of work to do to find a comfortable spot and save ground.

10 – Speak To Me
A very slim chance involves this gal with any of the top spots. It isn’t even the post as much as it is the lack of class and uneven history at three.


Here are the records of contenders that have we have suggested to bettors in this blog.
Magic Marker, $20.60, $5.60, $2.40
Lindy Land, $20.40, $5.30, $4.20
Smokinmombo, $12.00, $2.60, $2.20
Magic Marker, $10.40, $4.00, $2.60
Concentraion, $10.00, $4.60, $3.40 (*Exacta $67.00)
E L Love, $8.20, $4.20, $2.10
Katniss, $7.80, $2.90, $2.80
Cruzado Dela Noche, $7.00, $5.80, $3.20
Stubborn Belle, $2.90, $2.30, $2.10
Habitat, $3.00, $2.60, $2.40
Habitat, $2.10, $2.10 ok n/s

Southwind Cartier, $19.00, $7.00
My Lucky Word, $6.70, $4.10 (*Exacta $67.00)
Divisionist, $6.60, $4.20
Lady Winona, $6.20, $4.40
Cue Hall, $5.20, $4.00
Frou Frou, $4.60, $3.30
Peacewave Hanover, $4.40, $3.20
Mythology Blue Chip, $4.20, 3.10
Onda Di Mare, $3.60, $2.20
Cruzado Dela Noche, $3.40, n/s
Habitat, $3.40, $2.20
Jackson Minion, $2.60, $2.60 ok
Iron, $2.50, n/s
Smokinmombo, $2.20, n/s
Billy Flynn, n/r

My Lucky World, $10.20
Donatomite, $7.60
Apostles Creed, $5.40
Sarcy, $4.40
Aldebaron Eagle, $3.60
Fashion Creditor, $3.40
Centurion ATM, $3.00
Aldebaron Eagle, $2.80
Boots N Chains, $2.60
Donatomite, $2.60
Lindy Land, $2.40
Cruzado Dela Noche, $2.10

Since May, the racing of classic divisions—soph-colt-and-filly trotters—on their quest to the Hambletonian and Oaks has been brought to you with exclusive coverage from TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society.

Recaps of races covered in this blog can be found at the archive section of the web’s home for the Hambletonian Society.